Former President Bill Clinton today took sides in Colorado’s Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, endorsing Andrew Romanoff’s challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet. It’s one of the hottest primary races left this year, and is especially notable given President Obama’s prominent backing of Bennet, who was appointed to the seat in 2009.
Romanoff claimed the Obama administration offered him a job to stay out of the Aug. 10 primary, and the Republicans think they have a prime pickup opportunity thanks to the Democratic intraparty warfare.
The TPM Poll Average of this race has Bennet leading Romanoff 46.3%-33.7%, but both Republican candidates lead both Democratic candidates in general election polls. Obama has campaigned and fundraised for Bennet.
A Clinton source says the email posted below is likely to be the only campaign effort on Romanoff’s behalf. Clinton will not appear at any Romanoff campaign rallies. Another source points out that Clinton and Romanoff have known each other many years.
This is the first race that’s divided the former president and current one since, of course, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary between Obama and Hillary Clinton. (Romanoff also was strong Clinton backer in 2008.) The former president endorsed and aided Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in their primary races.
Here’s Clinton’s note, which makes no mention of Bennet other than saying Romanoff won the state assembly this spring:
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
June 29, 2010
I first met Andrew Romanoff in 1992, when he was a student at the Kennedy School of Government and I was a candidate for President. Four years later, I was running for a second term, and he had just been elected to his first — as one of Colorado’s representatives on the Democratic National Committee.
I was proud to carry Colorado in 1992, but you should be even prouder of what Andrew Romanoff did to turn the state blue. He worked harder than anyone in Colorado to put Democrats in positions of power — and to use that power to benefit every single citizen.
Andrew led the effort to win a majority in the Colorado House of Representatives for the first time in 30 years, and to keep that majority for the first time in more than 40 years. He built the largest Democratic majority since John F. Kennedy was President.
Even more important, Andrew took on Colorado’s biggest challenges and made enormous progress. As the first Democratic Speaker of the House since 1976, he:
* Put together an Economic Recovery Plan to bring good jobs to Colorado and balance the state budget.
* Passed the largest investment in school construction in state history — a billion-dollar plan to repair, rebuild and modernize schools, especially in rural Colorado.
* Protected Coloradans from the threats they face every day: insurers who deny their claims and refuse to honor their policies, scam artists who prey on seniors and bilk them out of their life savings, polluters who destroy the environment and expect somebody else to pay for the damages.
Andrew won. Colorado won.
In 2008, the editors of Governing Magazine honored Andrew as “Public Official of the Year.” They recognized in Andrew the same qualities that the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and more than 50 other organizations had already seen — integrity, courage, compassion. Simply put, Andrew Romanoff is one of the best legislative leaders in the United States.
Colorado is far better off today because of Andrew Romanoff’s leadership. America will be too.
As a Senator, Andrew Romanoff will continue to stand up to special interests and fight for working families. We need Andrew’s leadership in Washington — especially now, when so many Americans are losing so much. “It is not enough,” as Andrew put it at the Colorado Democratic Assembly last month, “to put a President of real talent and vision and leadership in the White House if the same qualities are not matched at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Andrew won the state assembly by 21 points. With your help, he’ll win the primary and the general election.
Andrew brings to this race both an extraordinary record of public service and an extraordinary capacity to lead. I believe that those assets, as well as his deep commitment to Colorado, give him the best chance to hold this seat in November.
I support Andrew Romanoff, and I hope you will too. Please make a generous contribution to his campaign today.
Late Update: The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny tweeted that Bennet’s campaign responded. “The Clinton’s are known for their loyalty, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise,” Zeleny wrote, quoting a spokesman.